Video game maker Nintendo of America Inc. agreed on Thursday to provide protective gloves to approximately 1.2 million children who play the game Mario Party.
The agreement is part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general's office and could cost Nintendo (ntdoy) up to $80 million.
In reality, however, the settlement could cost the company a lot less -- even as little as $20,000 total for the gloves -- depending on the number of players who request the protective equipment.
"This settlement is good news for the parents throughout the nation," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "Nintendo has agreed to take responsibility for the effect of its games on young people."
While no case was actually filed, the New York attorney general's office has received almost 100 complaints from consumers whose children had sustained hand wounds from playing any of five different levels of the Nintendo 64 game. The injuries ranged from friction burns and blisters to lacerations and punctures.
"The injuries occurred because of the way that the joystick is used to win the game," said Christine Pritchard, spokeswoman for Spitzer's office.
In the five segments of the game associated with the injuries -- including Paddle Battle, Tug O'War, Pedal Power, Cast Aways and Deep Sea Divers -- children need to rapidly rotate the joystick to succeed at the virtual tasks. In many cases, the frenetic activity caused hand injuries, said Pritchard.
Nintendo will provide each family with up to four gloves as part of the settlement. In addition to the cost of the gloves, Nintendo has also agreed to pay for the state's legal fees, totaling about $75,000.
Beth Llewelyn, spokeswomen for Nintendo, stressed that the total cost to the company will more than likely be much less then $80 million. "We have had only 90 or so complaints in the year that the game has been on the market," she said. "We don't know how many people are going to take advantage of the offer."
Llewelyn described the gloves as "similar to weight-lifting gloves" with padded palms. The Attorney General's office estimated the cost per user could be as much as $18.
Nintendo owners can contact Nintendo for a glove at (800) 521-0900.